Summary Report for:
29-1071.00 - Physician Assistants
Provide healthcare services typically performed by a physician, under the supervision of a physician. Conduct complete physicals, provide treatment, and counsel patients. May, in some cases, prescribe medication. Must graduate from an accredited educational program for physician assistants.
Sample of reported job titles: Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C), Clinical Physician Assistant, Family Practice Physician Assistant, General Surgery Physician Assistant, Midlevel Provider, Orthopaedic Physician Assistant, Physician Assistant Certified (PAC), Physician Extender, Physician's Assistant, Surgical Physician Assistant
Also see: Anesthesiologist Assistants
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Examine patients to obtain information about their physical condition.
- Make tentative diagnoses and decisions about management and treatment of patients.
- Prescribe therapy or medication with physician approval.
- Administer or order diagnostic tests, such as x-ray, electrocardiogram, and laboratory tests.
- Interpret diagnostic test results for deviations from normal.
- Obtain, compile and record patient medical data, including health history, progress notes and results of physical examination.
- Instruct and counsel patients about prescribed therapeutic regimens, normal growth and development, family planning, emotional problems of daily living, and health maintenance.
- Visit and observe patients on hospital rounds or house calls, updating charts, ordering therapy, and reporting back to physician.
- Provide physicians with assistance during surgery or complicated medical procedures.
- Perform therapeutic procedures, such as injections, immunizations, suturing and wound care, and infection management.
- Supervise and coordinate activities of technicians and technical assistants.
- Order medical and laboratory supplies and equipment.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Alcohol analysers — Breath alcohol testers
- Anesthesia inhalers or inhaler units or accessories — Anesthesia ventilators
- Anoscopes or proctoscopes — Anoscopes
- Arterial blood gas monitors or accessories — Arterial blood gas monitoring equipment
- Arterial line catheters
- Audiometers or accessories — Audiometers
- Automated external defibrillators AED or hard paddles — Defibrillators
- Binocular light compound microscopes
- Blood collection needle — Blood collection needles
- Blood collection syringes
- Canes or cane accessories — Canes
- Cardiac ultrasound or doppler or echo units or cardioscopes — Doppler vascular equipment
- Cast cutters or saws — Cast removal saws
- Central venous catheters — Central venous pressure lines; Subclavian lines
- Cervical collars or neck braces — Cervical collars
- Chest tube — Chest tubes
- Crutches or crutch accessories — Crutches
- Diagnostic or interventional vascular catheters or sets — Swan catheters
- Electrocardiography EKG units
- Electronic blood pressure units — Electronic blood pressure monitors
- Electrosurgical or electrocautery equipment — Electrocautery devices
- Emergency response litters or stretchers or accessories — Life support for trauma and transport LSTAT intensive care units
- Endoscopic video cameras or recorders or adapters or accessories — Endoscopic camera/video systems
- Eye charts or vision cards — Eye charts
- Fetal or gynecological ultrasound or echo units — Doppler ultrasound fetascopes
- Floor grade nail nippers — Nail nippers
- Gas anesthesia apparatus — Anesthesia equipment
- Glucose monitors or meters — Glucometers
- Head or neck traction supplies — Halo fixation devices; Tong traction devices
- High frequency ventilators — High-frequency ventilators
- Hypodermic needle — Intramuscular needles; Subcutaneous hypodermic needles
- Infusion pump kits or accessories — Interthercal therapy equipment
- Intraaortic balloon pump and accessories — Intra-aortic balloon pumps IABP
- Intracranial pressure ICP monitoring units or accessories — Intracranial pressure monitors
- Intravenous tubing with catheter administration kits — Intravenous IV equipment
- Knee brace or support — Knee braces
- Laser printers
- Long term continuous electrocardiography EKG or holter monitoring systems — Holter monitors
- Medical acoustic stethoscope or accessory — Mechanical stethoscopes
- Medical cine fluoroscopy equipment — Fluoroscopes
- Medical magnetic resonance imaging MRI scanners — Medical magnetic resonance imaging MRI machines
- Medical suction or vacuum appliances — Tracheal suctioning equipment
- Medical x ray units for general diagnostic use — X ray machines
- Mercury blood pressure units — Manual blood pressure units
- Microscope slides
- Nasogastric tubes
- Nebulizer or accessories — Nebulizers
- Notebook computers
- Ophthalmic slit lamps — Slit lamps
- Ophthalmoscopes or otoscopes or scope sets — Ophthalmoscopes; Otoscopes
- Orthopedic splint systems — Splints
- Personal computers
- Personal digital assistant PDAs or organizers — Personal digital assistants PDA
- Pulse oximeter units — Oximeters
- Radio frequency transmitters or receivers — Portable satellite telehealth terminals
- Reflex hammers or mallets — Reflex hammers
- Spinal anesthesia kit or tray — Bone marrow biopsy equipment; Lumbar puncture equipment
- Spirometers or its accessories or its supplies — Pulmonary function testing PFT equipment; Spirometers
- Surgical clamps or clips or forceps or accessories — Artery forceps; Bull dog nose clamps; Mosquito artery forceps; Vascular straight aortic clamps
- Surgical curettes or loops — Surgical curettes
- Surgical dissectors — Dissector rods; Harvester rods
- Surgical lasers or accessories — Plastic surgery lasers
- Surgical microscopes or loops or magnifiers or accessories — Operating microscopes
- Surgical needle holders for general use — Needle holders
- Surgical probes or directors — Nail probes
- Surgical retractors for general use — Retractors
- Surgical scalpels or knives or blades or trephines or accessories — Scalpel blades; Scalpel handles
- Surgical trocars for general use or accessories — Trocars
- Suture needles — Suturing needles
- Suture removers — Suture scissors
- Tablet computers
- Tongue depressors or blades or sticks — Tongue blades
- Treadmill exercisers for rehabilitation or therapy — Therapeutic treadmill exercisers
- Tuberculin syringes — Tuberculin TB skin test equipment
- Vacuum blood collection tubes or containers — Evacuated blood collection tubes; Vacutainer tubes
- Vacuum tube needles — Aspirating needles
- Vaginal exam specula — Vaginal specula
- Videoconferencing systems — Videoconferencing equipment
- Walkers or rollators — Walkers
- Walking braces
Technology used in this occupation:
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Medical software — ChartWare software; Electronic medical record EMR software; Medical procedure coding software ; Teleradiology systems (see all 6 examples)
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Storage media loading software — Patient records software for personal digital assistants PDAs
- Video conferencing software — Teleconferencing software
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
- Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
- Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Therapy and Counseling — Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
Detailed Work Activities
- Collect medical information from patients, family members, or other medical professionals.
- Record patient medical histories.
- Diagnose medical conditions.
- Monitor patient progress or responses to treatments.
- Prescribe medications.
- Analyze test data or images to inform diagnosis or treatment.
- Examine patients to assess general physical condition.
- Prescribe treatments or therapies.
- Order medical diagnostic or clinical tests.
- Assist healthcare practitioners during surgery.
- Administer intravenous medications.
- Immunize patients.
- Provide health and wellness advice to patients, program participants, or caregivers.
- Supervise patient care personnel.
- Order medical supplies or equipment.
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 90% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 95% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Disease or Infections — 85% responded “Every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 80% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 65% responded “Extremely important.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 60% responded “Very important results.”
- Physical Proximity — 65% responded “Very close (near touching).”
- Telephone — 65% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 65% responded “Extremely important.”
- Deal With External Customers — 60% responded “Extremely important.”
- Electronic Mail — 55% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 45% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 60% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Consequence of Error — 60% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 60% responded “Some freedom.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 35% responded “Extremely important.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 60% responded “Every day.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 40% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Time Pressure — 45% responded “Every day.”
- Letters and Memos — 40% responded “Every day.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 30% responded “High responsibility.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 30% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Level of Competition — 55% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 40% responded “Very important.”
- Spend Time Standing — 65% responded “About half the time.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 50% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 40% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
|Title||Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).|
|Related Experience||Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.|
|Job Training||Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, sports medicine physicians, wildlife biologists, school psychologists, surgeons, treasurers, and controllers.|
|SVP Range||(8.0 and above)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
Interest code: SIR
- Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2015)||$47.20 hourly, $98,180 annual|
|Employment (2014)||94,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Much faster than average (14% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||50,000|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Physician assistants . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.
- American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAAA) , P.O. Box 13978, Tallahassee, FL 32317. Phone: (850) 656-8848.
- American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) , 950 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314-1552. Phone: (703) 836-2272. Fax: (703) 684-1924.
- National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) , 12000 Findley Rd., Suite 200, Duluth, GA 30097. Phone: (678) 417-8100.
- Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) , 300 N. Washington St., Suite 505, Alexandria, VA 22314-2544. Phone: (703) 548-5538. Fax: (703) 548-5539.